Thursday, November 29, 2007

last pix of n. di bacco and the marche, our honey made without bees and missing Bacco

29 nov.
Here are some photos from last night at dusk and you can see from the top of the hill above us: Nascondiglio di Bacco just behind the olive grove, Gran Sasso, the biggest mountain in the south of Italy, and the sea is visible in the next one far in the distance. Finally, you see a picture of our passito wine which tastes just like honey.. another smile on my face!
In a comic sight yesterday, I was downloading a video from my videocamera into my apple and the camera fell on the keyboard dislodging the j key which hit the floor and within 2 seconds was bitten in 2 by my wonderful dog Bacco. He is off to a babysitter today as i am leaving tomorrow and raffaele is headed north to receive his sommelier pin for completing all 3 levels of that course. Don't worry, Bacco will be back with Uncle Raffa Sunday.
Naturally, as I need to go by bus to Rome tomorrow, there will be a nationwide bus strike, so I am not sure how I will get there at this point. As with many things you read here on my blog "we will see".
Mauro finished our pruning today and Luigi, our neighbor, is plowing and putting down fertilizer. Thank goodness, as the erba medica was continuing to thrive and we need it to perish before planting the vineyard.
Hope to see many of you in america when I arrive. A dopo

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

yard work and packing

28 november
Just finishing up 2 days of yard work, planting etc. with the help of Mauro who has really tidied up our big mess. He is an expert tree trimmer and has opened up our view quite a bit and hopefully made the trees a bit healthier. I have put in a bunch of herbs including lavender, thyme, and rosemary as well as planted some climbing plants to cover up our mailbox/powerbox and make a little barrier outside room 4.
We are planning some things for Christmas and New Year's Eve and hope to rent out the entire agriturismo to one group and throw in some goodies like a magnum of veuve cliquot and a bottle of sassicaia. We will see as we put that on our last minute post.
I have now bought everything by mail order that I can think of to save a bit in tax and pay in dollars and my poor sister in law is probably drowning in boxes. I am packed for america and need to give the pooch a bath before i take off and put all in order. With luck, I won't forget too many things.
I tried our montepulciano wine today when i replaced our pastiche which protects the wine from oxidation and it is a very drinkable wine. I smiled after trying it, anyway. The passito is still fermenting, but maybe when i get back it will have finished. It is a very slow fermentation because of the temperature and we will have to wait and see what the final alcohol content will be as the mustimeter broke before we could check the initial sugar content.
The photos are of Bacco in giro, our plantings, and the wine with a white background to show off its color and next to my parmigiano/prosciutto bread I baked last night.

Monday, November 26, 2007

more pictures of San Marino, cooking class and bravo Jayhawks

26 nov.
Pictures from San Marino ( i played a bit and used B&W and antique modes) and the view from its upper streets with the valleys full of fog, Elizabeth cooking and the apple pies. Finally, I can't help congratulating my 2nd favorite college team in the USA, the Kansas Jayhawks, who were also 11-1 this year. It is too bad someone had to lose the game between the KU and MU, but hopefully, d'ora in poi (from here on), both teams will ride a wave of success. dds

TIGERS #1, San Marino, Cooking school

26 nov.
Yes, folks, for the 2nd time in history, there has been a slight frost in Hades. For the 1st time since i was 3 y.o. Missouri is

[1 Missouri 11-1 1 2779 .9751 2 1454 .9693 .9900 4 .978
2 West Virginia 10-1 2 2753 .9660 1 1467 .9780 .9700 3 .971]

number 1 in the country in football, and if all the stars align and MU wins 2 more games, they will be the national champs. Sorry Juvecaserta basketball, or milan AC, Inter, or Arsenal soccer fans; this is IMPORTANT stuff. I have included a photo of 2 young tiger fans who are anxious to see the eastern sports writers in the US eat some Corvo (crow).
I went up to Rimini to pick up some wine I bought on ebay italia and then headed inland to a picturesque, quaint and famous little "oldest republic in the world" known as San Marino. It is now 1,700 years old and even Napoleon respected the declaration of freedom of this little land. It is famous for hosting various events throughout the year, including a grand prix formula 1 race, amazing views and duty free shopping (and the worst olives ascolane i have eaten).
Yesterday was our 1st prova or attempt to have a cooking class here at Nascondiglio, with hopes to provide cooking classes in the winter for guests who want to try a cooking weekend for example. Elizabeth, now a resident of the Marche but previously from the US, was our guest chef and she gave a lesson on pumpkin soup, apple pie, and stuffing while I had prepared roast chicken during the day with veggies to eat along with her treats. We invited friends and asked for comments and hope to improve from there. Imagine someone saying there was too much wine! That was one of the comments so we will slow down on the wine offering during the class to maintain interest and alertness and maybe offer simpler courses which can be eaten as we go along. Anyway, it was fun for all and we learned a bit.
I am almost completely packed for the US and have 3 pages of things to do when I get there, I need a personal secretary to help me remember things. I will be changing my residency in the US to colorado and need a new driver's license, need to register to vote, etc. and afterwards I will be under the italian consulate in Denver, a vast improvement over Chicago!
I will put some more pix above, but these show: my friend's young MU fans, a couple of fotos of San Marino, Elizabeth on the left encouraging Sabrina with a little torte making and the pumpkin soup.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fall colors from today.. Happy Thanksgiving di nuovo

22 november Thanksgiving USA
These are pictures from today as I walked around our grounds. It is cool, bordering on cold, and gray outside today, but as you see, I found some late bloomers and some color from our trees and bushes. The outlier is our fermenting sweet wine in its stainless steel tank and I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but it really smells terrific.... still!
I am going to cook a thin slice of turkey breast and mash one potato and if I really feel like being spoiled, I may open my Leroy Bourgogne. Chissa? (who knows) In fact, I will probably try one of the primitivo wines which arrived today (zinfandel from puglia) and save the burgundy for some wine afficionadoes.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping tomorrow in america.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving in America!! buon compleanno Nina!!

21 nov.
I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving which I think is tomorrow. I bought some turkey breast and have some potatoes and carrots, so I can make some semblance of a Thanksgiving dinner. Raffaele is escaping into the north of Italy to explore Spumante land this weekend, but will return for our 1st attempt at hosting a cooking class with an american lady as guest professor. Elizabeth has decided to cook typical american food for our "students" so we will have a sort of Thanksgiving also sunday night. We are still working on the pool project, trying to get our land dry enough for fertilizer and plowing under of the erba medica.
Yesterday, i travelled to city hall to ask about repairing our road which is full of holes; a lot like Kansas City after a tough winter. Then I reminded the mayor's office I need a permesso. I drove the z4 for the last time legally, did a bit of shopping and made a killer chili without chili powder, which is as hard to find as cranberries (in other words, impossible).
I also helped our neighbor cut back his grape vines and that provided some exercise and fun for Bacco.
I am going to try to download some pictures of Thanksgiving in Colorno last year which Allison and I helped prepare for the tutors and masters students. I am having some iphoto problems, so fingers crossed! Ahh, the 15 kg turkey i cooked with orange glaze, boys with knives and Raffa leading Happy Birthday to Nina.
ciao dds

Monday, November 19, 2007

more Tuscany fotos

Bacco is such a lover! Julia, Giuseppe, come and get your glove if you want it, Angela, and finally alone time.

Packing already?

19 novembre
Sorry about the paucity of blog posts; even blogspot didn't remember me and I had to sign in today. Yes, I am already packing for the usa as I am likely to forget something!
As you may recall, I bid congrats to the English master's class when they graduated a week or so back and as always happens at UNISG, you have just a few days to pack up and vacate your apartment afterwards. That left Clementine in a bind, so she came down to stay with us for a few days at Nascondiglio before flying out this morning from Bologna. We explored the southern Marche a bit better than she had with her stage with the university, attended a Slow Food dinner in Porto San Giorgio, saw the antiques market held every 3rd weekend in ascoli Piceno, and of course tried all the local goodies like Rosso Piceno wines from Le Caniette and Aurora and olives ascolane. I took her to the train at San Benedetto which left at 5 this morning, so we are again just 3 in the agriturismo.
This weekend was the grand reunion of our class in Tuscany at the winery Capanelle. Funny the difference a year makes, as last year although I grudgingly appreciated the wines there, I thought it was all a bit overdone- such as the bank vault with monogramed doors for the wine library etc. This year, perhaps I have mellowed a bit. I still think the bank vault is a bit esagerata, but the winemaker, the marketing director and the proprietor have really put together a special place with special wines...i even liked their chardonnay. I strongly recommend a side trip to visit them whenever you come to Tuscany. They are in the town of Gaiole and welcome visitors. You can find their wines, though not cheaply, in the states; Solare, 50/50, the chard and a chianti classica.
We had a wonderful dinner and lunch and Friday night I tried a new experience, which was playing Trivial Pursuits in italian. "Who wrote Aleechay nella paese meravigliosa?" The answer, Lewis Carroll. now you can figure out the question.
We had a nice tour with the winemaker saturday morning followed by a really fine lunch including a wine tasting of the chardonnay from 2005, the solare from 2001 and the chianti classico from 2002 and 2003. An afternoon walk to a local castle followed, with Bacco and I in the lead and afterwards Raffaele, Elisa , Bacco and I returned to the Marche. My wonderful travelling dog vomited all of his lunch on my lap. He is a Forza 10 dog, which means the dogfood has a fish base. You can imagine from there, right? Anyway.. thanks much to NINA our hostess in la Toscana!!!
Bacco made his normal speedy recovery, while I had to change into a pair of Raffaele's pants to go to a graduation party for one of our friends who earned his degree in economics.
Sunday, we had Don Domenico, the priest from Offida for lunch, some friends from Ascoli for supper and that catches up the week.
Today, the sun is shining again after a week of cold, gray and rainy. With luck we can put down fertilizer this week and tear out the erba medica which is starting to regrow in our 2nd field and threatens to block our planting schedule.
We also have talked with a swimming pool salesman and will continue to price pools with others.
I think, fingers crossed, that the italian quota is open for foreigners for 2007. This is still 2007, isn't it??? Anyway, I hope to find a way to be here legally before long.
The pictures show my poor z4 in Ripatransone, overlooking the valley, knowing that his insurance papers are not valid after 20 nov. I definitely need to find a way to get a permesso! Also various fotos from Tuscany including Mr. Mojito, Luigi surrounded by admirers, our hostess, the trivial pursuits game and a group foto, various Bacco pix, etc. I will post another 5 above. Next post will be a Happy Thanksgiving blog post with pictures from the grand dinner at Colorno which Allison and I cooked for 50+ people (with a bunch of help)
Try finding cranberries in italy


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winter is again upon us

14 nov.
Today, just a flight of ideas, which is the way my brain works normally anyway. Thanks to Adrian and Dan for their comments, I will meet Dan when I head back to MO.
GASOLINE here costs $7.67 a gallon, my last fill cost over 100 dollars for the little z4 and was just over 12 gallons.
Happy Birthday today to Lynn Freeman, one of my friends from high school who was about the oldest guy in my class, which meant he got to drive 1st.
Bacco tried to play yesterday with a cat and a great dane, but got no takers. At least he tried to be sociable.
Today our fertilizer arrives which is organic, but the forecast is for rain and sleet for the next 5 days so I don't know when we will be able to apply it. Our vineyard mapped out on gps at 5.7 hectares, so we have about a half hectare extra to find. maybe we will cut out the little .4 hectare old vineyard for a new one, eventually.
We continued our swimming pool planning and are deciding on shapes and accoutrements. maybe we can fill the whole back yard and not have any grass!
Today, I plan to make another quince cake for our buddies we are meeting in La Toscana on Friday. Also, maybe, even though it is cold, I will make vanilla ice cream.
Well, the wheels have stopped turning in my head, so Arriverderci per adesso
dwight PS, the bookend pictures are of dawn this morning

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ciao a tutti, the baker is back

12 nov.
I am back. We have had some wild weather here, with a nice tempest of rain one day and then some days of winds which are quite impressive. After the rain here, the mountains were covered with new snow reminding me a bit of the Rockies.
I have cleaned a bit, visited a couple of festivals, one for San Martino's Day in Grottammare was a 2 day outdoor market, but nothing really special and the other a rather disappointing festival for the special olive tenere in Ascoli where the Piazza was empty of people. It is a shame, because the brochure was well done and it seemed well planned, perhaps I went on the wrong day at the wrong time.
I tried my hand at bread making this weekend, making a parmigiano bread and a rosemary bread like you find at Macoroni Grill i think. Both were reasonable, messy and made a nice base for bruschetta.
I explored our road, contrada Ciafone which winds away to our east and it descends eventually and goes across a creek, which you could not cross even with a land rover or a tractor, i imagine, and then I took a shortcut back to Nascondiglio through a forest of cherry trees from which i took the picture above ( a different angle for once).
I am looking forward to a weekend with the old classmates and tutors next week in Tuscany and also to returning to the states for a couple of weeks in December to catch up with my family and all my friends there. The grand tour will start in KC, then on to St. Louis, Denver and Estes Park, and finally Beaver Creek.
We met with our winemaker and agronomists last week and discussed once again the clones we should plant, when we should plant (changes every week-maybe feb.) planting of undergrowth, biological fertilizers, etc. Today, another meeting with the agronomist and the fertilizer man-who says my life is not exciting!
A dopo
Buona settimana

Wednesday, November 07, 2007